“I’m one of those statistic coaches and one out of every four I’m going to get, so I’m going to try to kick it onside every time,” said Spinner, who also serves as the head coach at The Avalon School in Wheaton, Md.
The first play after the recovery, U.S. quarterback Trey Dawson (The Kent [Conn.] School) threw a 45-yard frozen rope to the game’s MVP Seven McGee (Rochester [N.Y.] East High School) to begin the second-half scoring.
McGee, who is verbally committed to the Oregon Ducks, finished the game with four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. He also chipped in 51 rushing yards on four touches. Sachse (Texas) running back Myles Nash was another factor in the Americans’ offensive success, rushing for 112 of the U.S.’ 183 yards, including a 75-yard trip to the house.
Much could be made of the U.S. defensive performance as well, who limited the Canadians to 52 yards on the ground and 206 yards through the air. On multiple occasions the American defense held firm and kept their neighbors to the north out of the end zone when in scoring position. Matthew Horne (Elk Grove [Calif.] H.S.), Joseph Perkins (Madison-Ridgeland [Miss.] Academy) and Caleb Murphy (Campbellsburg [Ind.] West Washington H.S.) totaled 8, 7 and 5 tackles, respectively. Murphy added two tackles for a loss and a sack to his stat line.
“Before the game, I told them it was going to be a long, long game and we just need to keep our head down and continue to grind,” Spinner said. “At halftime I told them that this game is nowhere close to over, so keep pushing, keep doing everything right and control what we can control and we’ll come out on top.”
The first half showcased an American bend-but-don’t break defense. Twice the Canadians marched into U.S. territory, but couldn’t cash in on either trip.
The Americans failed to convert on 4th and 5 from the Canada 37 with a little over six minutes to play in the first quarter. Weatherford (Texas) H.S. quarterback Ken Seals overshot his tight end Charles Finley (Wayne [N.J.] DePaul Catholic). With the momentum on their side, Canada marched down to the U.S. 36, but were forced to punt.
Later, on the last play of the first quarter, U.S. punter Fabrizio Pinton (The Woodlands [Texas] H.S.), who also served as the team’s kicker, had his punt blocked by Canada’s Jaxon Runge. Linebacker Ramsey Derbas scooped up the loose ball and to give Canada the ball on the U.S. 22.
Canada’s Keegan Kaytor didn’t waste any time testing the U.S. secondary, taking a deep shot to Keelan White, but a diving Christian Miller of Beaufort (S.C.) H.S. popped the ball from White’s hands, saving a touchdown. Ben Hadley’s 37-yard field goal attempt missed wide left to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
Late in the second quarter, the U.S. drew first blood, sparked by wide receiver McGee, who took his first carry of the game for 25 yards. Two plays later, Seals found a wide open Jared Gipson of Stockton [Calif.] Saint Mary’s H.S. for a 58-yard touchdown. A successful Pinton PAT put the Americans on top 7-0.
With Xavier Tremblay (14-25, 168 yards, 1 TD) taking over as Team Canada’s signal caller in the second half, the Canadians were finally able to capitalize off good field position when he found White (6 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD) to cut the U.S. lead to 14-7.
A quick three-and-out by the Americans on the ensuing drive resulted in a Canadian field goal. Hadley drilled a 26-yarder, set up by a 40-yard pass from Tremblay to Adley Mayala and an 18-yard run by himself, to put the score at 14-10.
The U.S. scored 14 unanswered points in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter to finish off Team Canada. After Nash bounced outside for his 75-yard touchdown run, Dawson (7-10, 108 yards, 2 TDs) threw his second touchdown of the night, this time finding Finley on a 38-yard strike to pad the U.S. lead at 27-10.